November 28, 2016

Pumpkin Barfi Pie

Though I was being lazy to post recipes online of late, I am very much keeping myself busy in the quicknhealthy kitchen :-). This Thanksgiving season, I decided to go a little extravagant to make two desserts. One was the most trending dessert of the season from NYT, Cranberry Curd Tart. For the second one I wanted to stick with my favorite TG dessert ingredient, our local Pumpkin. I also wanted to bring an Indian touch to my dessert (no surprise there!). That is how this classic 'Pumpkin Barfi Pie' originated. The quick baked crust is flour-less, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan. The filling made on stove top is dairy-free, vegan and sweetened with just enough cane sugar. It can be substituted with coconut sugar or other choice of sweeteners, I just used unrefined cane sugar so that my bright yellow pumpkin color is retained in the dessert. 

For the crust:
  • Almond powder - 1 cup (3/4 cup almonds ground in a coffee grinder of dry blender)
  • Dried shredded coconut - 3/4 cup 
  • Dates - 4-6 
  • Fresh ginger  - 1 inch 
  • Virgin coconut oil - 2 Tbs 
For the barfi filling:
  • Pumpkin - 4 cups (Grated and packed) 
  • Dried shredded coconut - 2 cups
  • Organic unrefined cane sugar - 1 - 11/4 cups 
  • Cardamom - 6-8 (skinned and powdered)
For the crust:
  • Preheat oven to 350 deg F
  • Process all ingredients in a food processor until moistened and well combined. It should form sort of a stiff 'dough'.
  • Press the 'dough' into and up the sides of a 9-inch pie dish. (I used a tart pan instead of a pie pan) 
  • Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden. Let the crust cool down completely. 
For the barfi filling:
  • Prepare the pumpkin: I used a variety called Orange Hubbard, but any variety of sugar pumpkin will work fine. Cut it into 1/2 and remove core and seeds. Cut into 3'' to 4'' pieces, remove skin. Grate using a vegetable grater. Measure 4 cups packed. 
  • Start cooking on a heavy bottom pan on medium heat, after 3-4 minutes, the pumpkin will start releasing liquid. Add coconut and continue cooking, stirring frequently taking care not to burn. 
  • In about 15-20 minutes, pumpkin should be cooked and soft. Add sugar and cardamom powder and continue cooking. 
  • Cook till all liquid is absorbed and everything starts to leave from the edges of the pan. 
  • Remove from flame and let it cool down. Once cooled down, fill in the prepared crust by pressing down evenly as you go. Smooth the surface evenly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature. 
  • Any leftovers can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks.When serving warm in 200 deg oven for 5-10 minutes to soften. 

October 31, 2016

Alu Quinoa Tikki

I have not posted a recipe in such a long time. This summer has been really busy, in a good way. We have been spending a lot of time outdoors getting the much needed fresh air, Vitamin D, etc. Honestly,  I have not been very creative in the kitchen, atleast nothing worth a post. On a few occasions when I did, just did not have the patience to post.

Almost all of summer, I have been cooking only fresh local produce from our local farmer. They have been really kind to us, they were growing Red Edible Amaranth, Okra and tender green beans along with so many other varieties of fresh veggies. I am usually not big on potatoes but there is no match for fresh potatoes. So I end up buying potatoes from our farmer quite often. This recipe was first made at the quicknhealthy kitchen as a quick-fix light dinner. It was made with leftover cooked potatoes and cooked quinoa. It can be served as a snack, or as a light meal, optionally have a serving of veggies, a cup of soup, or a small salad on the side to make it a full meal. 

  • Quinoa - 1/2 cup (soaked for overnight)
  • Potato - 2 (medium)
  • Ginger - 1 Tbs (minced)
  • Garlic - 1 Tbs (minced)
  • Green chilly - 2-3 (minced)
  • Garam masala - 1 tsp **
  • Amchur - 1 tsp ***
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Virgin coconut oil - for the pan
  • Cook drained quinoa with 1 cup of water and let it cool completely.
  • Cook potato and cool completely, mash with a fork. 
  • Add quinoa and mashed potato into a bowl. Add the spices and salt and mix well with.
  • Divide the dough into 18-20 equal parts. Make each part into small round and oval patties. 
  • Drizzle coconut oil on a pan over medium heat. Place the patties on the pans without overcrowding.
  • Cook till golden brown on one side. Flip carefully and repeat on the other side. 
  • Transfer to a plate lined with a kitchen towel or paper towel.
  • Serve as is for a filling snack or serve with a soup or salad for a light meal. 
  • Enjoy!!

  • ** For garam masala, I used my homemade pav bhaji masala, you can substitute with your choice of masala.
  • *** Amchur is dried green mango powder. You  might be able to substitute amchur with a Tablespoon on lemon juice. 

October 19, 2016

Sun-dried er Oven-dried Tomatoes

It is that time of the year when the home grown/ local farm vegetable season is coming to an end. This is also the time when we think of ways to preserve some of the summer flavors. A couple of years ago I decided that I am going to make my own sun-dried tomatoes when I get an abundance of tomatoes and sun light (during the 3 months of summer in this part of the world). First trial was literally a wash thanks to an unexpected rain (it is called New England for a reason :-) ). Couple of more unsuccessful trials later, I figured out that this needs way too much patience, planning and care.., each of which are not in abundance for me. I went the QnH way and figured I might want to stick to the oven, sort of mimicking the dehydration using the lowest temperature of the oven. I had to play around with the timing and the cut of the tomatoes a few times to get this perfected. 


  • Tomatoes (I used small Campari tomatoes) - about 60 
  • Himalayan pink salt (or rock salt) - a couple of pinches 
  • Herbs - optional (your choice, preferably dried)
Tip: I prefer Campari tomatoes as I love the flavor it brings when compared to other tomatoes.


  • Cut each tomato into quarters or smaller. Arrange on baking trays without crowding. (you will need 2 full size trays)
  • Sprinkle salt and herbs (if using)
  • Set oven to the lowest temperature. (Mine was at 170 deg F)
  • Bake (basically dehydrate) for 10 to 12 hours After 9 hours, you can check every 30 minutes till your desired dryness level is reached.
  • Let it cool completely. 
  • One option is to store dry in the refrigerator. 
  • Second option (my preferred option) is to store them in your pantry, covered in EV olive oil. As and when you are using up the tomatoes, you can reserve the oil for a flavorful oil for your pasta or for your salad dressings. 
  • Enjoy !!

September 23, 2016

Meditteranean Barley Pilaf

There are some recipes that you adapt from a friend, from a cookbook or from the web, and your family loves it so much that you keep making it again and again. You add your touches to it and at some point you start owning the recipe. This pilaf is one such recipe, which I had made a few years back for a   Meditterarean themed lunch. This can be made with farro as well, though barley has a better taste and texture. The use of fennel complements the spices and mint sauce well, but if you are not sure about fennel, you can omit and just use onion alone. This can be served as a full meal which is full of flavor and is made with wholesome ingredients. This is best served warm or at room temperature and hence is very ideal to take to pot-luck parties. 

  • Barley - 1 cup (soaked overnight)
  • Black chickpea - 1/2 cup (soaked overnight)
  • Bay leaf - 1
  • Black pepper - 1/2 tsp (crushed)
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Masala powder - 1-2 Tbs (see below for proportion)
  • Red onion - 1
  • Fennel - 1 bulb
  • EV olive oil - 1 Tbs
  • Mint sauce - 1 batch (see recipe below)

  • Drain the chickpeas and cook with 1 cup of water, bay leaf, crushed pepper and salt. (I use a pressure cooker, which works best to cook any beans)
  • Drain the barley and cook with the cooking liquid from chickpeas (add extra water as needed to cook) and a tablespoon of masala powder. (I use pressure cooker here too)
  • Heat a pan on medium heat, add olive oil and saute chopped red onion and chopped fennel till onion in slightly golden.
  • Add cooked chickpeas and barley and any remaining liquid from cooking barley. Adjust taste add extra salt as needed and more masala if you prefer. Continue cooking till any remaining liquid is completely absorbed. 
  • Switch off, add the mint sauce and mix well. Let it stand for 30 minutes or so before serving. 
  • Serve warm, enjoy!!

Masala Powder:
  • Coriander seeds - 2 Tbs
  • Red chilly - 1-2
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch stick
  • Cardamom - 2-3
  • Grind everything to a fine powder using a coffee/spice grinder

Mint Sauce:
  • Mint - a small bunch 
  • Cilantro - few stems 
  • Garlic Clove 1-2
  • Lemon juice - from  half a lemon
  • EV olive oil - 2 Tbs
  • Grind everything to a coarse sauce.

June 17, 2016

Mediterranean Inspired Breakfast Bowl

I have another savory breakfast idea for today. It is inspired from my favorite cuisine, yes you guessed it right, Mediterranean cuisine!! Plenty of beans, vegetables, olive oil.. perfect for a filling and satisfying breakfast. Chickpea can be replaced with any other bean, and for bean hummus, play with your favorite beans. I am substituting tahini with almond butter, again that is just my preference. With a little bit of planning and prep work you can put this bowl together in no time for your busy morning. It is clean, gluten-free, vegan, diary-free and above all quicknhealthy. Serve this for breakfast or for lunch, or for dinner as well :-). 

  • Chickpeas - 3/4 cup (Soaked over night)
  • Vaal Beans - 1/2 cup (Soaked over night) (Substitute with Fava, Lima or Cannellini beans)
  • Spaghetti squash - 2 cups (cubes) 
  • Garlic - 2-3 cloves
  • EV olive oil - 4 Tbs 
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Homemade almond butter - 2 Tbs
  • Lemon juice - from half a lemon
  • Lemon wedges - to serve

  • Drain and cook the Vaal (or Fava/Lima/Cannellini) beans with 1 cup of water. Let it cool. This can be done ahead of time so that you have cold beans ready to work with. 
  • Drain and cook the chickpeas with 1 cup of water and salt. This can be done ahead of time too.
  • Drizzle olive oil in a pan and roast garlic till golden - transfer to a plate.
  • In the same pan add spaghetti squash cubes and cook covered on medium heat turning them a few times taking care not to burn them.Cook till they can be flaked with a fork Add salt as per taste, remove from flame and set aside.
  • To make your bean hummus - add cooked vaal beans, almond butter, roasted garlic, lemon juice, cumin seeds and enough salt to a blender jar and process till everything is puréed. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and continue till you smooth and creamy. Transfer to a bowl. 
  • To serve, divide the spaghetti squash and chickpeas and into serving bowls. Top with bean hummus, drizzle remaining olive oil and. Serve with lemon wedges. 
  • Serves 3. Enjoy!!
Note: Pressure cooker works best to cook beans to perfection.

June 10, 2016

Curried Sorghum Stuffed Bell Peppers

Sorghum is a new addition to the quick'n'healthy kitchen. Though on the packet it claims to be an ancient grain from India, I have never had it before in my life :). A drought and heat resistant crop very much suitable for sustainable farming just like many other millet varieties. It is nutrient rich and adds a distinct texture and flavor to your dishes. Use them in salads, breakfast porridges, soups, pilafs or stuffed in veggies like in this colorful and flavorful stuffed bell peppers. You can call it bell pepper stuffed with 'curried' sorghum :). I would like to remind my non-Indian readers that curry is not a spice in itself like most of you think, but it is a mixture of spices which varies in mix and proportion based on who is making the 'curry' :). 

  • Sorghum - 3/4 cup (Soaked overnight) 
  • Multi-color bell peppers - 4 
  • Tomato - 3-4 (pureed) 
  • Red onion - 1 small (chopped fine) 
  • Garlic - 3-4 cloves (minced) 
  • Green chilly - 1-2 (minced) (substitute with red chilly or jalapeño and adjust as per preference) 
  • Coriander powder - 1 tsp  
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Coconut oil - 1 Tbs
  • Arrowroot powder - 1 Tbs
  • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp (adjust according to preference) 

    • Drain the sorghum and cook with 2 1/2 cups of water till cooked well and the water is completely absorbed. If cooking on a regular pot, it will take about 30-40 minutes on medium heat. Cooked best in a pressure cooker till you get about 8-10 whistles.
    • Preheat over to 350 degrees F. 
    • Remove the top from each bell pepper, remove the core and seeds. Cut the bottom slightly just enough so that the pepper can sit on the bottom. Arrange the cleaned cored pepper shells on a baking pan. Chop the remaining pepper slices finely. 
    • Heat coconut oil in a pan on medium heat, add cumin and fry for a few seconds. Add minced garlic and chilly and saute for a few more seconds. 
    • Add chopped onion and sauté for few minutes or till soft. 
    • Add tomato puree and chopped pepper, coriander powder, turmeric powder and cook will tomato puree is reduced to half in about 5-8 minutes. 
    • Add the cooked sorghum, salt and arrowroot powder and cook till water is mostly absorbed.
    • Remove from flame, divide equally and fill the cooked sorghum mixture into the prepared pepper shells. 
    • Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. 
    • Let it cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.
    • Makes about 4 servings. Enjoy!!

    May 31, 2016

    Spicy Soba Noodles w/ Almond-butter Sriracha Sauce

    Here is a spicy and flavorful Asian inspired noodles recipe. You can make this with any good quality noodles, soba, udon, rice noodles or even your spirooli cut veggie noodles. Though this is best served warm, it can be served at room temperature too, and hence can be great for pot-lucks. Add your choice of vegetables to good measure. As always, use clean and organic ingredients as much as possible.

    • Organic Soba Noodles - 1 packet (I buy this brand - Hakubaku or KOYO)
    • Homemade almond butter - 3 Tbs 
    • Homemade Sriracha sauce - 2 Tbs (more or less as per preference)
    • Bell pepper (yellow/orange/red) - 1
    • Carrot - 1 medium
    • Fresh ginger root - 1 inch
    • Garlic - 2 cloves 
    • Toasted sesame oil - 2 Tbs 
    • Sesame seeds - 1 Tbs 
    • Sea salt - as per taste
    • Red chilly powder - optional (if you need extra heat)
    • Cook Noodles as per package instructions, rinse in cold water and keep aside.
    • Meanwhile, slice the bell pepper, carrots, ginger and garlic into matchstick slices.
    • Heat sesame oil in a pan, add sesame seeds. Once they start popping, add ginger/garlic slices and saute for a minute. 
    • Add veggies and saute till cooked enough and soft, for about 5 minutes.
    • Add almond butter and Sriracha and mix well over low medium heat taking care not to burn the sauce. Adjust the taste, add salt and optional chilly powder as needed.
    • Add the noodles and toss carefully without  breaking or mashing the noodles. Coat the noodles evenly with the veggies and sauce. 
    • Keep aside for 20-30 minutes before serving for better flavor. 
    • Serves 3 to 4. Enjoy!!

    May 13, 2016

    Turmeric Cumin Oats w/ Lemony Avocado Cream

    I gave you a sweet breakfast in my last post, but today I have a savory breakfast idea. Made with a small list of wholesome and clean ingredients and can be put together in no time. There is a lot of buzz around turmeric these days, but that is not something new to Indian cuisine. Indian cuisine uses turmeric in pretty much everything. Here, I am just adding a dash of Indian flavors to the simple, everyday oatmeal. 

    • Thick rolled oats - 1 cup (optionally soaked overnight)
    • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
    • Sea salt - as per taste
    • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
    • Start boiling oats in 2 cups of water, salt and turmeric powder. Cook till well done.
    • Toast cumin seeds in a small pan and mix with the cooked oats.
    • Serve warm with a dollop of lemon avocado cream.
    • Makes about 3 servings. Enjoy!!

    Lemon Avocado Cream:
    • Avocado - 2
    • Lemon juice - from half a lemon
    • Green chilly minced - 1-2 (optional as per taste) 
    • Sea salt - as per taste
    • Cilantro chopped - 1/4 cup (substitute with your preferred chopped herbs)

    • Take out meat from avocado and mash with the back of a fork. Mix remaining ingredients and whisk till creamy.
    • Enjoy!!

    May 9, 2016

    Apple-Pie Chia-Pudding

    Apple-Pie Chia-Pudding does sound like a dessert right? I am talking about an awesome breakfast idea though. If you are using wholesome and clean ingredients, you don't really need to worry about eating dessert for breakfast anyway :). The best part is that you can put this together the night before, and you have a high energy, wholesome and satisfying breakfast to start your busy day. Made with wholesome and organic ingredients, and sweetened with only dates and an optional dose of raw honey. No refined or processed ingredients are used and it is gluten free, dairy free, raw, vegan-friendly and quick'n'healthy:). 

    • Apples - 3 
    • Dates - 1/4 cup 
    • Honey - 1 Tbs (optional)
    • Fresh ginger - 1 tsp
    • Cinnamon - 1 tsp
    • Nutmeg - 1/4 tsp
    • Cardamom - 1 skin removed
    • Himalayan pink salt - a pinch
    • Lemon juice - 1 Tbs 
    • Chia seeds - 6 Tbs
    • Homemade almond milk - 2 cups

    • Soak chia seeds in almond milk overnight
    • To make 'apple pie': 
    • Roughly chop one apple. Add to a blender jar along with dates & spices and blend to make sort of an apple sauce. 
    • Chop remaining apples fine, toss with lemon juice. Mix with the 'apple sauce' and honey (if using). Leave this mixture on your counter-top overnight. 
    • When ready to serve, divide chia pudding into serving bowls and serve topped with 'apple pie' on top. 
    • This makes 2 to 3 servings. Enjoy!!

    May 3, 2016

    Coffee Bites

    For the coffee lover traveler looking for a good bite, here is something just for you. When I am on travel or just on a long drive I like to carry a bunch of homemade goodies with me that I can reach out when I need a quick bite. Usually I make small bite sized bars or balls which give you some quick energy. Here is a recent addition that was added to that collection. This one is for the coffee lovers who like good coffee flavor and are looking for a quick coffee feel without the diary and sugar that goes with a cup of coffee. Made with organic German instant coffee powder and pure raw cacao powder, and sweetened with only dates. Clean, gluten-free, diary free, no-sugar-added snack coffee bites for your long afternoons at work, for long drives, pre-workout or any time you need a quick bite, a coffee bite. 

    • Almonds - 1 cup
    • Dates - 1 cup packed
    • Organic instant coffee powder - 1 Tbs
    • Cacao powder - 2 Tbs
    • Himalayan pink salt - a pinch
    • Pulse almonds in a food processor or blender to almond meal consistency.
    • Add dates and process till dates and mashed and binds everything together.
    • Add remaining ingredients and continue till everything together forms sort if a dough. 
    • Make small walnut sized balls and roll them using your palms. 
    • Store in an air tight container.
    • Makes about 24 balls. Enjoy!! 

    March 25, 2016

    QuickNHealthy Avalose Podi

    Avalose podi is a snack which is made with coconut and roasted rice flour, and a hint of ginger and cumin. It is served as-is with a sprinkle of sugar, or with mashed bananas and warm milk, or as a combination of all of these.  It is a staple snack from Kerala, which many of us malayalees might remember fondly as an after-school snack.

    Like many other regional delicacies, I have never tried making the original version :), I have only tasted versions made by different people I know.  This one here is a quicknhealthy version, and that is not surprising right:-). In this version, I am using flattened rice (aka poha) instead of rice, and I am using dates instead of sugar. As always I try to use as much of organic ingredients as possible. Here is a vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free snack.


    • Powder flattened rice using a dry blender.
    • Dry roast in a heavy bottom pan on medium heat for about 15 minutes, or till slightly turning brown and nice aroma starts coming. 
    • Dry roast the coconut till golden brown. 
    • If using fresh ginger, dry roast till excess moisture is absorbed.
    • Let everything cool and powder in batches to get a coarse powder. 
    • Store in airtight container. 
    Serving Suggestions:
    • Just like that, enjoy spoonfuls :-)
    • Serve with sliced banana and/or warm milk as a filling snack or as a breakfast. 

    March 5, 2016

    Plantain Bread

    For the Plantain fans, here are two more recipes that can be made from this incredible fruit. For folks new to Plantain, try it and u will be a convert in no time. My son loves to have bread sometimes, but wheat/gluten does not suit us well. We are not gluten free, but try to reduce it. Having bread in the morning is very useful as there is not much prep required when everyone is looking for a quick bite and leave for work/school. This is not your regular bread, but is a contemporary bread, something that you can cut into whatever shape and size that you prefer. It has no flour in it as made with just ripe plantains and coconut. It is Vegan, Paleo and Gluten-free. There is another savory version with the unripe plantain which gives a different flavor,  texture and color. The best part of this plantain bread is that it tastes awesome, and is really quick'n'healthy :-)

    Ripe Plantain Bread
    • Well ripened plantain - 4
    • Dried shredded coconut - 2 cups
    • Flax meal - 2 tsp
    • Himalayan pink salt - 1/2 tsp
    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    • Remove skin and cut plantain into small pieces. Add to food processor and start processing. 
    • Once plantain is completely mashed add remaining ingredients and continue tull you a get a thick 'batter'.
    • Line a baking sheet with silicon sheet or parchment paper. Spread the batter into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. (Imagine 8 slices of bread kept side by side)
    • Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Take out and carefully cut into 8 pieces (remember bread slices..)
    • Flip the pieces and return the pan to oven and continue baking for another 20 or so monutes. 
    • Serve warm. Or, keep refrigerated and toast before serving.
    • Makes 8 slices of bread. Enjoy!!

    Green Plantain Bread

    • Green plantain - 4
    • Dried shredded coconut - 1 cup
    • Flax meal - 2 tsp
    • Himalayan pink salt - 2 tsp
    • Black pepper - 2 tsp (ground)
    • Cumin seeds - 2 tsp (ground)
    • Follow the same procedure as above.
    • Makes 8 slices of savory bread. Enjoy!!

    February 20, 2016

    Ripe Plantain Cookies

    Being from Kerala, we love plantains and can eat it in all ways it can come, raw/ripe, fried/steamed/raw/cooked/baked/mashed and in all shapes :-). It is by far the most versatile of all foods.  Plantain is a wholesome food by itself and we try to include it in many recipes. I was looking for a good wholesome no-flour cookie and so figured I should try it with plantain. This is not your regular cookie which is aerated with the addition of leavening agents. This is more of a dense energy-bar-style cookie. It has a character and chewiness, kids (including the big ones at home ;-)) love it and when you add the fact that it does not have any flour, is gluten free and no added sugar it makes it even better. Feel no guilt on eating more of this. Yes, it is a whole meal by itself, imagine having a meal just with cookies :-). Serve this as a to-go breakfast or as an after-school snack. 

    • Well ripe plantain - 1
    • Well ripe banana - 1 
    • Almonds - 1 cup (recommended soaking for 8 hours)
    • Raisins - 1 cup (I used Hunza golden raisins) 
    • Cardamom - 3-4 (skinned)
    • If using soaked almonds, drain them well from soaking liquid.
    • Slice plantain and banana into about 1/4 inch thick slices.
    • Heat your oven to the lowest temperature (mine is at 170 deg F)
    • Arrange the plantain/banana slices and almonds on a baking sheet lined with silicon or parchment paper. 
    • Let them bake (dehydrate) for about 3 hours flipping the slices half way thru. Keep an eye on them after 2 hours.
    • You are looking at dehydrating them to almost dry but still slightly soft, and not completely dry and crispy. 
    • If you are not soaking almonds, just place them along with the dehydrating banana/plantain slices during the last 30 minutes. Let everything cool down.
    • Add almonds and cardamom to a food processor and process till you get a coarse powder. Add raisins, dehydrated plantain/banana slices and continue till everything is processed well and form a 'dough'.
    • It might be a little sticky, so you might want to grease your hands with a pat of coconut oil to work with it.
    • Make about 15 small balls out of the dough. Press each one between your palms to form a cookie shape.
    • Arrange them on the same cookie sheet and bake at a low temperature (200 deg F) for about an 1 hour. The cookies will be dry but still soft. If you want drier crispier cookies, you might want to bake them for some more time.
    • Cool down completely and store in an air tight container.
    • Enjoy!!

    PS: Don't get discouraged by the total time it takes to make these. I just use my oven cook-time setting for each of the baking sessions. So you don't really have to hang around in the kitchen for the whole time. 

    February 14, 2016

    Carrot Halwa 'Cheese'cake

    East meets west on Valentine's Day  ... Here is a fusion of 2 classic desserts, one from India and one from the US. Walk into any punjabi (or most indian restaurants outside of india) restaurant and you cannot miss 'Gajar ka halwa' (Carrot halwa). The same is true of New York and its quintessential Cheesecake.

    I have used the carrot halwa as the base for my 'cheese'cake made with wholesome ingredients such as cashew nuts, coconut oil and raw honey. For the Valentine Day, I have modified it by adding some beets to the carrot giving it a natural red color. Try it and you will really feel the halwa and cheese melting in your tongue with their unique tastes.  Happy Valentine's Day 

    For carrot halwa base:

    • Carrots - 2 medium
    • Beets - 1 small 
    • Organic unrefined cane sugar - 1/2 cup 
    • Cardamom - 4-5 pods (skin removed and powdered)
    • Homemade non-dairy milk - 1/2 cup (recipes here
    For 'cheese'cake:

    • Raw cashew nuts - 1 cup (preferably soaked for 3-4 hours) 
    • Coconut oil - 1/4 cup
    • Lemon juice - 1/4 cup
    • Raw honey - 1/4 cup

    Directions for carrot halwa:

    • Grate carrots and beets.
    • Start cooking on medium heat covered stirring frequently. In about 10 minutes, they should nice and soft.
    • Add milk and cook till veggies are cooked well and moisture is completely absorbed for   5-8 minutes. 
    • Add sugar and continue cooking, stirring continuously. Once halwa is soft and easily separating from the pan, switch off the flame.
    • Grease 2 4inch spring form pans with coconut oil. 
    • Divide the halwa into 2 parts and fill into the pans and spread evenly.
    • Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling.
    Directions for 'cheese'cake:

    • Blend everything in a high speed blender till creamy.
    • Divide into 2 parts and fill in to spring form pans prepared with carrot halwa base.
    • Freeze for several hours to set. (I usually make this previous day)
    • Take out and remove from spring form pan. 
    • Slice and let it thaw for 10-15 minutes before serving.
    • Enjoy in good company !!!

    ..  and here is the original carrot halwa version beets here..

    January 26, 2016

    Vegetarian Pastelón - Ripe Plantain Lasagna

    Each year I look forward to Thanksgiving day. One reason of course is the spirit of being thankful for everything that we have, good health, family, friends, peaceful life - everything that we often take for granted till it is taken away from us. Another reason is that I look forward to cooking the TG day menu. This time again we picked the theme of 'food from around the world' - a dish from each continent. I picked Australian lamb stew and Moroccan anise bread to go with the stew. From Asia I picked Udon noodles made with homemade almond-butter Sriracha sauce, and French green beans salad from Europe. My husband did a big project making hard apple cider and sparkling apple cider with farm fresh apples. I then made a pumpkin no-cheese cheesecake which took care of North America.

    Now I was left with South America. I toyed with different dishes, but nothing really caught my attention. Then came the idea of making something with plantain. My guests were all going to be Mallus and I was sure they would love something with plantains. That is how I got the idea of Pastelón. It seems like each Latin american country has its own version of Pastelón. It is basically a plantain lasagna or casserole made mostly with a beef filling. Since we are predominantly vegetarians, I was not going to add one more non-vegetarian dish to the menu and beef was out of question anyway. That is how the vegetarian version came about.

    I just took the basic idea of Pastelón, the plantains and the filling was prepared by my own judgement with a mix of Indian and Latin spices. We all loved it and so did my guests, in fact this was probably the best one on the table. I will be making this more often as breakfast, brunch or as side dish just like this. My son wants to take this to school as lunch.., can't beat that :-)

    • Well ripe plantains - 8
    • Black Bean -1 cup (soaked overnight)
    • Kidney bean - 1 cup (soaked overnight)
    • Red onion - 1/2 chopped fine
    • Tomato - 4 medium
    • Jalapeño - 2
    • Cilantro - 1/2 cup (chopped)
    • Sea salt - as per taste
    • Dry mango powder - 2 Tbs
    • Cumin seeds - 1 Tbs
    • Paprika - 1 Tbs
    • Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp or more if you prefer
    • EV Olive oil - 3 Tbs
    • Organic ghee or butter - 2 Tbs (substitute with virgin coconut oil for a vegan version)

    • Cook the beans with enough water and drain.
    • Using a mortar and pestle crush cumin, jalapeño and cilantro.
    • Heat olive oil on medium and sauté cumin/cilantro mixture for 2 minutes.
    • Add onion and sauté till golden brown.
    • Add tomato and cook till slightly mashed.
    • Add cooked beans and all remaining ingredients and cook on medium heat stirring frequently. 
    • Cook till everything in mixed well and beans are slightly mashed and most of moisture is absorbed.
    • Boil or steam the plantains (with the skin on).
    • Once slightly cool, peel the skin, mash and remove the core and seeds. Add the ghee (or butter or coconut oil) and mash well.
    • Grease a baking dish (8.5 x 10.5 or 2.5 Qt) with butter. 
    • Divide the mashed plantain into 2 parts. Make a layer of plantain in the greased baking dish, fill the bean mixture on top. Fill the remaining plantain on top. Press as you go with each layer. 
    • Even out the top layer and optionally add a drizzle of ghee or a few slices of butter on top. 
    • Bake at 350 deg F for 30 minutes.
    • Slice and serve. 
    • Serves 8 big servings or 16 small servings.
    • Enjoy!!

    January 23, 2016

    Homemade Body Butter - New & Improved

    Body butter is something I had been keen on making for a while and my initial trial came out well, but I was not happy with the consistency as it melted a lil during warmer weather. So here is an improved version and I am very happy with the result, have test marketed it with a few close friends and have their Thumbs-up as well.

    I started off with my usual set of preferred ingredients. As always my hubby would start with Coconut oil, which is an all-purpose item for him and is the only cosmetic on his desk :-). Problem with coconut oil is that it liquefies at warmer temperatures, so wanted something that can neutralize it and beeswax was the perfect foil, besides the fact that it has great medicinal properties. Then I selected the rest of the ingredients for their skin nourishing properties. Finally I added a tinge of rose essential oil for a mild fragrance. The result is a very pleasing body butter made with simple ingredients that is wonderful for your skin and suitable for all weather conditions.


    • Virgin coconut oil - 1/2 cup
    • Shea butter - 1/2 cup
    • Bees wax - 1/2 cup
    • Almond oil - 1/2 cup
    • Wheat germ oil (vitamin E oil) - 2 Tbs
    • Pure rose essential oil - 30-40 drops


    • Add coconut oil, shea butter and bees wax to a glass jar.
    • Set the glass jar on a saucepan with water heating over medium heat.
    • Keep stirring while the fats melt and become fluid.
    • Once fats have melted completely remove from heat and add almond oil and wheat germ oil and mix well. Let the mixture cool down.
    • Once completely cold, add rose oil (or any preferred scented essesntial oil) and mix well.
    • Keep on couter top and wait till the mixture solidify again (keep in refrigerator if you are  in a warm weather area). 
    • Once the mixture is solid but still soft, beat using a hand mixture or egg beater till light and fluffy (this step is optional to make a light and fluffy body butter).
    • Transfer to containers and store in a cool dry area. 
    • This makes about 5, 4oz containers. Enjoy!! 

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